Carolina Beach Town Council Votes Not To Approve Pedal Pub Permit

Carolina Beach Town Council Votes Not To Approve Pedal Pub Permit Carolina Beach Town Council May 8th, Meeting Agenda.

Carolina Beach Town Council Votes Not To Approve Pedal Pub Permit Featured

By / Local News / الثلاثاء, 15 أيار 2018 16:29

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -  The Carolina Beach Town Council voted four to one during their March 13th, meeting to amend the code of ordinances to allow for trolley-style pedal powered passenger vehicles that would offer tours in commercial and residential areas of town as well as permit their passengers to consume beer and wine during tours. During their May 8th, meeting they voted three to two to not approve a request for a permit to operate a pedal pub vehicle in Town.

According to Jeremy Hardison - Town Senior Planner - "Pleasure Island Coastal Cruiser, LLC is requesting authorization to operate a Commercial Pedal Vehicle within the town limits.  There central location will be operated from the Jack's Retreat property located at 103 Cape Fear Blvd in the Central Business District (CBD). They will have a designated area in the parking lot where they will store the vehicle during the day and will provide a meeting space for patrons to load and go over safety and directional instructions.  They are proposing to store the bike at Good Hops overnight."

Under a recently adopted ordinance, “Commercial Pedal Vehicle” is defined as a non-motorized device with four wheels steering for a forward seat driver, 8-16 passenger saddle seats, and pedals by which the device may be propelled upon a street at low speed. 

Any proposed Commercial Pedal Vehicle would need to be approved by Town Council. The ordinance addresses operating hours, route approval, addresses the consumption of alcohol, and safety concerns. The vehicle is constructed with a low running board, built in coolers, and a bar at which passenger sit and peddle, and are allowed to consume beer and wine, which they must provide themselves. An employee steers the vehicle which also has a motor-assist to aid in traffic or climbing hills at a little over 10mph.

Hardison explained, "They plan on offering tours through the state park and to local establishments.  They would like to visit the following establishments  Crush and Grind, The Dive, Good Hops Brewing, Surf House, The Last Resort, Nollie’s Taco, The Veggie Wagon, Gibby’s,  SeaWitch, Olde Salty’s, The Lazy Pirate,  HopLite Irish Pub,  High Tide Lounge and The Fat Pelican.  A typical tour would be for a two hour period visiting 3 to 4 establishments for 15-20 minutes each."

He explained, "Each tour would be customized, but the applicant wanted to have the option to customize each tour utilizing the 16 establishments listed above.  Out of these 16 establishments staff and the Police Advisory Committee recommend avoiding traveling on Lake Park Blvd and Dow Rd.  This would eliminate Surf House, The Last Resort, Saint's Cove, The Veggie Wagon, Ocean Grill, The Lazy Pirate, The Dive and HopLite from the tour. Lake Park Blvd is the main corridor though town with limited traffic control devices and increased speed limits.  The bike is 7.5' wide and will take up a lane of traffic. Vehicles will not be able to drive around the vehicle such as you would a bicycle."

Hardison explained, "The applicant is requesting modifications for the following requirements that can be allowed by Town Council’s approval."

One requirement states, "The primary location of the business, passenger meeting area, loading and vehicle storage shall be located on private property in a designated approved area not impeding any drive aisles or required parking spaces."

The applicant requested an alternative "Start and Stop Point" at Carl Winner Drive in a Loading and Unloading zone to be used when their primary location is unavailable.

Another part of the ordinance states, "No commercial pedal vehicle operation shall load or unload passengers in the right-of-way, except in a designated on-street parking space that will not in any way impede or interfere with the orderly flow of traffic on the streets."

The applicant requested a waiver from that requirement and requested passenger loading and unloading areas could take place at the curved area past Crush & Grind or at the curved space at the corner of Canal Dr. and Cape Fear Blvd.

Another requirement of the ordinance prohibits operation on Dow Road or Lake Park Blvd.

The applicant requested a waiver from that requirement in order to access establishments on North and South Lake Park Blvd and to use Dow Road to access the Carolina Beach State Park.

Hardison explained Town staff reviewed the request with the Police Advisory Committee and recommended the following; 
1) For the vehicle not to travel on Lake Park Blvd or Dow Rd except at controlled intersections due to Lake Park Blvd and Dow Road serving as major corridors through town.  Also, because of conflicts between pedestrians, bicycles and the traveling motorist with a large open air slow moving vehicle.   
2)  Not to utilize the end of Cape Fear Blvd, Harper Ave, and Carl Winner Ave at the Marina for loading and unloading, and as a meeting area to conduct commercial operations. Hardison explained this is due to the high volume of use by citizens and visitors.

During the meeting Councilman Tom Bridges explained, "Obviously we've got some good people that want to run a  business but our job is not to talk about this one specific business but in general. Like the ordinance we passed. I didn't vote for it but it's our ordinance and therefore I accept it. But now the one we just passed not long ago, we're asking for waivers. My concern is if you have to ask for waivers after you've already just passed the ordinance, either change the ordinance or you have to say well we can't do this."
Bridges said, "We've heard from Police Advisory and their objections to it. We've heard from other staff. I have concerns about the traffic. The concern that even though the recommendation is not to go to Lake Park, not to go to Dow Road. Invariably they are going to go on Dow Road. And in the off season they are going to be on Lake Park a lot."

He said, "I don't think it's fair to the company for us to try and fit this in there because I think it's going to be a hard way to make money in this town just because of the traffic patterns we have. When it gets into the season, it's hard for residents who know all the shortcuts" to travel around town due to increased traffic volume.

Council member Leann Pierce said, "I do still have concerns given our recent traffic study. That's a big issue for me."

She explained the off season is busier than it used to be and proposed off season routes on Lake Park Blvd would still have to deal with high traffic volumes.

Councilman Jodan Garza explained, "I like the option. I also like the option of revisiting it in the spring. My only concern is that if for some reason we revisit it in the spring and it comes down to where the Town isn't pleased with a lot of these things, for a person who is going to be investing the amount of money you're going to put into this company, there is a likelihood that you may not be running it next year. Are you willing to take that chance?"

He explained, "I think it's an awesome idea. I know the Police Advisory people say don't go with it. I like to go with things when people say don't do it. Give it a shot. But I also like Michael's idea in regards to revisiting it next spring. If it's something that everyone in this neighborhood says we can't do this and we can't do it, are you prepared to lose that investment? Beyond that, if you are 100% behind that, I'm 100% behind it because I think it's an awesome idea. It is very beneficial. Obviously I guess we all have different ideas of the whole Lake Park idea because I say let's slow down."

Mayor Joe Benson said, "I think it was a tight very solid presentation. You guys have exhibited persistence throughout all of this. Point well taken on whatever the number, 12 to 15 to 10 occupants. Those are people who aren't in vehicles causing congestion and pollution and slowing down traffic on their own. I understand Tom's point for sure but I always think the market place will figure out whether your business would survive or not. That's a risk that entrepreneurs take everyday."

Councilman Bridges said, "I still want to reemphasize the fact that you passed an ordinance and now you're going to put waivers basically undoing most of what you just passed. And although we didn't have a lot of residents that have spoken against this, we have had some and I've heard many other ones."

Mayor Benson said, "I got forty-one names right here that are in favor that sent emails to all of us."

Bridges said, "Yes I saw the cut and paste emails."

Benson said, "No they weren't. I read all of them. They weren't cut and paste."

Council member Leann Pierce said, "We have made a lot of tough decisions on Council. Very few, maybe I can count three, that were as difficult for me."

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said, "This is a tough decision. I met with the applicants a couple of different times before they came. I'm struck by something that my friend Ethan Crouch posted earlier today. Whereas he put an article out about you need to develop... to improve the lives of our tourists and our residents. And it's an article about tourism verses livability. And I've heard for a number of years up here that we need to be doing more for our residents and we need to be less concerned about tourism and business."

He explained, "Yes, I received the emails you got. And I appreciate the fact that you had people show up here today. It's often times easier to get people to show up in support than it is to show up in opposition. And I have heard from, probably not forty-one  people, but a fair number of people, that they are not in favor of it. I'm concerned approving it, this a one year permit, this is not a license, so you invest $50,000 in a pedal pub and it's a disaster for the community, it's hard to unwind."

He said, "I'm just going to be really reluctant moving forward on something. Last month one of the biggest points that was brought up was our traffic study. When the state comes in and says you need to redesign Lake Park and put everyone on Saint Joseph Street. You need to have most of your traffic go back up Saint Joseph and come out through the Maxway. When I hear that we have 15,000 people moving into Riverlights... I just don't know how much pressure on tourism we can continue to take."

Shuttleworth explained, "Yeah, I want to slow down. I don't think you're going to be slowing traffic down because traffic doesn't move that fast."

Councilman Garza said the recent traffic study didn't focus on golf carts or bicycle traffic.

Shuttleworth explained, "No they didn't. I don't disagree we need more bicycles and golf carts. And as much as I appreciate the daylight and I really think Matt did a great job pointing out the places they'd like to go... at the end of the day it's called a Pedal Pub because it's a Pedal Pub. It's designed to take people for bar hoping. That's something that I just think at some point, it's as many issues as it doesn't raise. This is one of the toughest decisions. If I vote for it and in a year we say it's not working and we yank it back... is this an annual permit?"

Town Manager Michael Cramer said the permit is issued on an annual basis.

Shuttleworth explained, "At this point I would be hard pressed to support it. I know that's a disappointment for Tina and Matt and they are good people and they are residents. I just feel like I've struggled with it, I really have, I've looked at the routes. But I hear from the residents, we want bike trails to ride our bikes on and it's not the same."

Mayor Benson made a motion to approve the applicant's request for a commercial pedal vehicle permit to include the three waivers as requested.

The Council voted two to three with Mayor Benson and Councilman Garza voting in favor and Council members Shuttleworth, Pierce and Bridges voting against the Mayor's motion.

The request for a permit was denied.

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